Hi! You are at an exciting point in your life where you can choose many different career paths. If you are interested in medicine, here are a few things that might help you out. Many medical students have always known they wanted to become doctors, while others decided in college or even after having a career in another field. Being a doctor gives you many different job options. You may practice in a primary care field where you follow patients closely for years, become a specialist diagnosing and treating particular conditions or become a researcher learning new information concerning the structure and function of cell and organ systems – knowledge that can lead to a discovery of new cures for diseases. Although the medical school application process is almost as challenging as medical school itself, there are a number of things you can do to prepare. Following these simple suggestions will give you a good start and help you present yourself as a stronger applicant.
Get Exposure! Admissions committees like to know that you have seen medicine first-hand. A good way to get this experience is to spend time shadowing physicians or volunteering in a setting that has close patient contact, such as an emergency room or nursing home. If you are at ease with children, volunteer at a camp for children with disabilities or chronic diseases (cancer, cerebral palsy, diabetes, sickle cell disease, etc.) Volunteering is also a good way to learn your strengths and weaknesses, while still providing a service to others. It also provides an interactive experience between you and persons from other cultures and backgrounds.
Work Hard! Grades are very important. While you don’t have to be the star of your class, you should work hard in school and do your best. Take some challenging courses that will show that you have the perseverance needed to tackle the rigors of medical school. You also must work hard to prepare for the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), a standardized national exam of students who apply to medical school. This 6-hour online exam covers the basic sciences, reading comprehension, and writing skills, but is mostly multiple-choice. It is a good idea to begin to practice taking multiple-choice tests now, so that you won’t be anxious about them later.
Stay Focused! Don’t let people discourage you from pursuing medicine, if this is your true desire. Yes, medical school is expensive, but don’t let the cost prevent you from realizing your dream. There are governmental and private funding programs that will enable you to meet the financial obligations of medical school. In the long run, you must believe you can do anything you set your mind to, and then go for it!
Michelle Y. Whitehurst-Cook Donna H. Jackson
Associate Dean for Admissions Assistant Dean for Admissions
Director, Office of Student Outreach